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Monstera obliqua vs Monstera adansonii

MONSTERA OBLIQUA VS MONSTERA ADANSONII
Author: Muggle Plants with the help of Dr. Thomas B. Croat

PRELUDE

Let me start by quoting American botanist Dr. Thomas B. Croat from one of the emails he has sent me recently: “Your problem is that most of the plants [Monsteras] being sold everywhere probably have the wrong name with the exception of Monstera deliciosa!”. He opened my eyes to a brand new world where even botanists are sometimes wrong and people selling plants don’t care to research the right names. And so my Monstera journey began. I told myself that I will get to the bottom of this problem and resolve it once and for all. At least for me. Which name is right? Is it obliqua? Adansonii? Or maybe it’s none of these two. 

Dr. Thomas B. Croat
To learn more about Mr. Croat’s life

THE BEGINNING

I am a huge Monstera family enthusiast and my problem with names started when I got a small Monstera as a gift. The label stated “Monstera obliqua” and I was beyond surprised since this variety is so rare. How did we get our hands on obliqua in Europe? Hybridization? But, as this plant grew older it was very clear to me that this is not an obliqua. Was it adansonii? I was not 100% sure. And so I started to dig, and when I couldn’t find the answers I dug deeper. I found Mr. Croat email address, explained to him my dilemma and he sent me his unpublished Revision of Monstera of Central America with 91(!) spiecies presented which was AMAZING. I also wrote an email to the Botanic Garden of Rio de Janeiro, since I’ve read online they preserved Monstera obliqua leaves from 1993. Or so they thought.

THE EXPLANATION

Let me be very clear. There are only 17 known times in botanic history when Monstera obliqua was seen in the wild and leaves or other were collected for study. And some of those times happened in the 70s and since then have been corrected. Some botanists use the term “probably obliqua” when posting a photo and yet so many plant shops and online stores sell obliqua. This is a domino effect. If so many people call something one name so many times then other people assume this is the right name. I get it, but it’s not. Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden states that Monstera friedrichsthalii is considered a synonym for Monstera adansonii but Monstera obliqua and Monstera adansonii are not the same species. 70% of the plants sold out there are adansonii, the rest are hybrids, but still, not pure obliquas.

PL – “oblique” znaczy ukośny, więc używając słowo “ukośna” w opisie Monstery, która tak naprawdę jest adansonii jest także błędne, opis “Monstera ukośna” nie powinien się w ogóle pojawiać.

MONSTERA OBLIQUA vs MONSTERA ADANSONII

The easiest way to show you the differences between these two is to do it with pictures. Some of the Botanical Gardens still have wrong names attached to the leaves collected from the 60s – 70s. Mr. Thomas Croat was unable to send me a photo of obliqua. But the Botanic Garden of Rio de Janeiro did. The Monstera obliqua Miquel leaves from 1993. Wrongly stated also as adansonii in the parentheses.

These are drawings of Monstera obliqua by botanists: Michael Madison & Adolf Engler.

And here it is! Monstera obliqua! Yep, you won’t find none of those in the stores.

Photo above credit @mickmitty

And these are examples of Monstera adansonii in different growing states:

Photo above credit:  http://urbanyards.de/produkt/monstera-adansonii/

THE DIFFERENCES

Monstera obliqua leaves are as thin as a sheet of paper, when adansonii leaves are a bit rough when you touch them, you can feel their texture. Obliquas leaves consist mostly of holes, 90% of the leaf are holes. Sometimes the holes are so big they destroy the frame of the leaf. As you can see in the real photos of obliqua posted earlier in this post. Adansonii leaves are not as longitindial as obliqua’s. The holes in adansonii cover generally half of the adult leaf.

There are of course many hybrids out there. I myself have one with few leaves resembling Monstera obliqua and Monstera siltepecana, but the rest of 80% is adansonii. I sent a picture of this Monstera to Mr. Croat and he confirmed it was not 100% adansonii, only a plant based on hybridization. And in this imperfect plant world should be sold as adansonii.

So… Look closely at the leaves of your Monstera and find out which one is it. Is it adansonii? Or is it a hybrid? And maybe some other spiecies.

Like Monstera siltepecana:

Or Monstera xanthospatha:

But trust me, as much as I want this to be true, you do not have a Monstera obliqua. It’s a botanical unicorn. So please, spread the word, change the name to the right one. Let’s not be confused anymore! Peace, love & plants!

43 Comments

  • Nils

    February 23, 2018 at 7:47 PM

    The attached pictures of M. siltepecana are not M. siltepecana and look rather like a regular adansonii var. laniata, this species is very variable. Siltepecana is easy to identify; it has green foliage with big silver highlights and doesn’t get fenestrations until maturity, when it also loses its silver colour. If you look it up on instagram/google you’ll see. 🙂

  • raflezja

    February 24, 2018 at 3:36 PM

    Dziękuję za ciekawy artykuł.
    Jest on potwierdzeniem tego, czego już dawno dowiedziałam się od pasjonatów araceae. Ale niewiele osób mi wierzy. 🙂
    Podobnie jak Tobie, zależy mi bardzo na prawidłowym nazewnictwie.

  • KarMur

    March 4, 2018 at 1:25 PM

    Yaaay! Finally I have the answer to this. I bought plant labelled as obliqua, but I now know for sure it’s actually an adansonii. Thanks so much for this article; great to have lots ofphotos to compare with as it makes it super clear! 🙂

  • Łukasz Skop

    March 5, 2018 at 7:50 PM

    Super interesujący artykuł! Tych, których to interesuje jest więcej niż myślisz 😉
    Teraz jestem pewien, że nie mam żadnej M. ukośnej ;)ale i tak ją uwielbiam. Pozdrowienia!

  • Liz

    March 22, 2018 at 1:48 PM

    Fantastic article, thankyou! I love getting to the bottom of things like that too, and just as I began my ‘trip down the rabbit hole’ I found your article and you had already done it for me!

  • Emmeli

    April 17, 2018 at 7:25 PM

    I care! And you were incredibly helpful. I’m not sure what mine is but at least now I know I don’t have an obliqua ☺️🙏🏼🌱

  • Vitorio Pimentel

    April 20, 2018 at 8:58 PM

    What an interesting article. I live in Joao Pessoa, Brazil and today I found and bought a Monstera that I thought was an Obliqua and now I know it’s actually and Adansonii. Even the Adansonii are quite hard to find here. I was so happy when I saw it. Thank you for your research.

  • Krista

    April 22, 2018 at 7:00 PM

    Thank you so much for this!! I bought a monstera labeled as an “obliqua” a few months ago. Once i started doing research , I realized there’s no way is an obliqua and i can’t believe there’s so many people out there using the name incorrectly. Now that my plant is growing I’m almost certain it’s an adansonii/obliqua hybrid. It’s much holier than other adansonii i’ve seen out there. Would you be able to send me a pic of yours?? Thanks!

  • Gisela

    May 14, 2018 at 5:32 PM

    Lovely writing! And I do care…(about correcting it! 😉 )..so lets count three people now! Thanks !

  • Iwona

    June 7, 2018 at 8:01 AM

    Well, thank you for this very good article and the explanation, I am beyond happy to have found this since I realized on Instagram, that a lot of people call them obliqua when they are actually not. So this article will be my forever-reference when it comes to that! Thank you! Greetings from Vienna, Austria!

  • John Hill

    July 6, 2018 at 3:44 PM

    You have posted several photos by mickmitty to establish obliqua’s ID. He has also posted on Facebook (Mick Mittermeier) some photos of obliqua from a field trip earlier in 2018. He had found and identified by inflorescence structure an obliqua growing in the jungle. Its leaves were small ovates lacking any fenestrations. How’s that for muddying the waters?

  • Ela

    July 9, 2018 at 8:16 PM

    Dzisiaj chodziłam zrezygnowana po centrum ogrodniczym aż nagle ją wypatrzyłam! W końcu adansonii, której wszędzie szukałam odkąd zobaczyłam ją u kogoś na insta 😉 Na metce napis: Monstera obliqua monkey mask. Trochę mnie to zdziwiło, ale i tak ją zabrałam ze sobą, w końcu mamy #monsteramonday 😀 Zaczęłam szukać informacji i tak trafiłam na Twój artykuł. Okazało się, że to nie obliqua, potem, że jesteś z Polski a na sam koniec, że mogę podglądać Twoje roślinki na insta! Żyć nie umierać! Dzięki dziewczyno <3

  • John Hill

    August 12, 2018 at 9:00 AM

    @Julie on June 4, 2018, re: M. deliciosa / Borsigiana:
    Both types are of species M. deliciosa. Borsigiana is a subspecies which was discovered in a remote valley in Mexico. Despite its small natural range it has come to dominate the market in the USA. So there is no species M. Borsigiana. The name is more properly “Monstera deliciosa ‘Borsigiana’ .”
    There is no subspecies name for the non-Borsig. type. Some folks might specify it as “Pure M.d.” or such but that is not official.
    I have seen several sites online that talk of the two as if they are separate species. They are not. Their flowers have the same structure and they are inter-fertile.
    The physical differences: Young plants might be hard to distinguish, except for the wavy edges at the geniculum of the “pure” species. Borsie sometimes has a hint of a wrinkle there but in “pure” it is much more pronounced. Grown plants show bigger differences. “Pure” has rather short internodes while Borsie stretches out to become a rambling vine. The leaves of “Pure” are also much larger and geometrically complex, with several ranks of fenestrations (holes) while Borsie usually has just one.

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